Skip to main content

Full text of "The deaths of David and Romie "Doc" Hodell in Newaygo Country, Goodwell Township, White Cloud, Michigan in 1922"

See other formats

3  1833  03334  7896 

Gc    929.2    H65901k 
Keippel,    Lee   W, 
The   deaths   of   David   and 
Romie    "Doc"    Hodell    . . . 

Digitized  by  the  Internet  Archive 

in  2010  with  funding  from 

Allen  County  Public  Library  Genealogy  Center 

>9S  DeLonni 

Allen  County  Public  Library 

900  Webster  Street 

PO  Box  2270 

Fort  Wayne,  IN  46801-2270 


I  spent  all  my  summers  as  a  child  with  my  grandparents,  Frank  and  Marie  Keippel  at  their 
place  on  3  Mile  Road,  now  owned  by  Don  and  Marie  Maxson.  My  exploring  of  the 
woods  and  my  bowhunting  took  me  many  times  into  the  area  that  was  referred  to  as  the 
"Swamp".  I  never  remember  it  being  called  the  "Dudgeon  Swamp"  although  I  recall 
hearing  a  little  of  the  story  from  my  grandparents.  It  was  not  until  I  was  an  adult,  that 
Don  and  Marie  Maxson  related  what  they  knew  of  the  Hodell  murders,  which  sparked  the 
curiosity  to  research  the  1922  incident.  I  knew  two  of  the  "lynch  mob",  Fred  Nestle  and 
Fred  Anderson.  William  J.  Branstrom  was  my  grandparent's  attorney. 

I  remember  in  the  early  sixties,  before  I  entered  the  military,  reading  and  seeing  pictures  of 
the  trial  in  a  magazine.  I  thought  it  was  either  "Look"  or  "Life",  but  after  many  hours  at 
the  library,  I  was  unsuccessful  in  finding  this  article. 

I  am  not  a  writer,  and  I  have  not  attempted  to  write  the  a  story  of  what  I  have  discovered, 
but  rather  lis;  'n  chronological  order  the  event  that  took  place  taken  from  newspaper 
articles  and  prison  records.  I  have  transcribed  what  I  have  read,  not  changing  wording  or 
spelling  or  inserting  my  opinion.  I  have  satisfied  my  curiosity  and  have  typed  out  this 
"outline"  for  friends,  who  wanted  to  know  what  I  had  discovered. 

I  would  be  very  interested  in  the  opinions  of  readers  who  may  have  a  different  slant  on 
what  took  place. 


The  Dudgeon  Family  came  from  Allen  County,  Indiana  and  settled  near  the  town 
of  Holton,  Michigan  before  arriving  in  White  Cloud,  Michigan  in  1905,  where  they  traded 
their  Holton  farm  for  two  parcels  of  land  equaling  1280  acres,  5  miles  northeast  of  White 
Cloud  in  Goodwell  Township,  Newaygo  County,  which  at  one  time  was  called  "Big  Bear 
Swamp".  The  Dudgeons  reported  seeing  many  bears  on  their  property  (Sections  21 ,  29, 
and  30).  Charles  H.  Dudgeon  and  Alice  Dudgeon  had  five  children:  Lee,  Wilmer, 
Herman,  Lola,  and  Meady.  A  sixth  child,  a  daughter  called  "Z"  had  died  earlier. 


The  Dudgeons  began  to  raise  breeder  livestock  for  income  on  their  property  which 
they  referred  to  as  "The  Ranch".  Their  neighbors,  who  found  the  Dudgeons  hard  to  deal 
with  and  bullish,  called  the  property  "The  Dudgeon  Swamp".  There  was  a  certain  amount 
of  resentment  and  jealousy  in  the  rural  community  caused  by  the  Dudgeon  attitude  and 
being  able  to  purchase  such  a  large  parcel  of  land.  The  Dudgeons  were  one  of  the  first  to 
own  a  new  electric  truck. 

Since  there  were  no  buildings  on  the  land,  they  occupied  a  sha  ity  a  few  miles  from 
the  property  while  they  built  their  house.  Charles  and  Alice  Dudgeon  with  their  son,  Lee, 
built  a  two  stor>'  house  with  a  porch  containing  four  rooms,  two  downstairs  and  two 
upstairs.  The  floors  were  made  of  rough  ash  boards  and  the  partitions  between  the  rooms 
were  very  crude  and  covered  with  sheets  of  newspaper.  The  stairs  leading  upstairs  were 
so  steep  they  could  be  considered  a  ladder.  The  rough  boards  outside  were  covered  with 
tarpaper  and  strips  of  lathe.  The  family  moved  into  the  house  before  the  windows  or 
doors  were  installed.  The  house  was  never  finished. 

The  washboard  road  that  ran  past  the  property  was  a  corduroy  or  log  road  covered 
with  dirt  and  had  many  chuck  holes.  The  old  stagecoach  road  from  Grand  Rapids  to  Big 
Rapids  crossed  the  Dudgeon  property  diagonally.  There  were  remnants  of  the  burned  out 
Graves  lumber  camp  near  the  Dudgeon  house.  The  White  River  originated  on  the 

Only  eight  hundred  of  the  twelve  hundred  acres  were  fenced  when  Dudgeon 
occupied  the  land,  so  when  he  fenced  the  remaining  four  hundred  acres,  the  neighbors, 
who  had  been  using  it  to  graze  their  cattle,  were  incensed  and  cut  the  wires  to  let  the 
Dudgeon  stock  out. 

Charles  Dudgeon  mortgaged  part  of  his  land  for  $350.  down  payment  on  Fred 
Riblet's  eighty  acres,  which  was  a  quarter  mile  west  of  the  Dudgeon  property,  for  his 
daughter  Lola  and  her  husband,  Frank  Priest. 

Without  telling  the  Dudgeons,  Frank  Priest  sold  his  contract  for  the  land  to  Jake 
Terwillegar,  who  was  caught  dragging  logs  off  the  land  by  the  Dudgeons.  A  fight  ensued 
in  which  Terwillegar  took  a  severe  beating.  The  Dudgeon  men  were  convicted  of  assault 
and  served  ninety  days  in  the  White  Cloud  jail. 

A  neighbor,  Tom  Scott  had  a  dispute  with  the  Dudgeoiis  over  Scott  crossing  their 
property.  Although  Wilmer  and  Lee  Dudgeon  were  both  badly  hurt  by  Scott,  they  were 
again  arrested,  convicted  and  served  more  time  in  jail. 

After  Charles  Dudgeon's  death,  Alice  Dudgeon  had  an  altercation  with  the  teacher 
of  the  school  across  the  road  from  her  house,  for  which  she  was  taken  to  court  and  fined. 

She  also  was  accused  of  having  an  altercation  with  Jake  Terwillegar  at  which  time  she 
broke  a  few  of  Terwillegar's  ribs. 


Meady  (Dudgeon)  Hodell's  education  ended  in  the  eighth  grade  at  the  age  of  16,  at 
which  time  she  worked  locally  until  she  married  Romie  "Doc"  Hodell  at  the  age  of  20. 
Meady,  for  a  time  worked  in  the  telegraph  ofiBce  in  White  Cloud  and  a  chair  factory  in  Big 
Rapids.  It  was  during  this  time  span  that  Meady  gave  birth  to  two  children  that  were 
fathered  by  her  brothers.  Upon  their  births,  the  infants  were  taken  to  the  Dudgeon  bam, 
clubbed  to  death  and  buried. 


Romie  "Doc"  Hodell  was  bom  and  raised  in  Ensley  Township,  north  of  the  town 
of  Grant,  Michigan,  about  a  half  mile  on  Trunk  Line  54.  His  four  brothers,  Gayle,  Forrest, 
Wayne  and  Hollis  still  lived  at  home  with  their  mother,  Nina.  His  two  sisters,  Lila  and 
Lola,  were  married.  Lila  Siegel  lived  in  Comstock  Park,  Michigan  and  Lola  Cook  lived  in 
Goodwell  Township,  White  Cloud,  Michigan.  In  1920  Romie  moved  to  Wilcox 
Township,  White  Cloud,  Michigan  where  he  lived  on  property  on  2  Mile  Road.  (He  was 
in  the  process  of  buying  the  property  from  Fred  Anderson  at  the  time  of  his  death.)  He 
later  rented  a  house  in  Goodwell  Township  from  J.E.  Terwillegar.  This  was  the  same 
property  which  Charles  Dudgeon's  son-in-law,  Frank  Priest  had  sold  behind  his  back.  (  At 
ihe  time  of  his  death,  Romie  and  Meady  were  living  with  Meady's  mother,  Alice  Dudgeon 
and  her  two  brothers,  Lee  and  Herman.) 

The  majestic  white  pine  forests,  for  which  the  region  was  famous,  had  been  laid  to 
waste.  The  lumber  barons  had  sold  ofFtheir  holdings  to  farmers  and  were  steadily  moving 
north.  They  left  in  their  wake,  vast  areas  of  clear  cut  land,  dotted  with  pine  tree  stumps, 
blackened  scars  of  forest  fires,  and  a  barren  wasteland  of  sand. 

Romie  became  a  "stumper"  who  would  remove  tree  stumps  in  the  farmer's  fields. 
Stump  removal  was  a  common  profession  of  the  times.  He  had  been  "stumpin"  in  the 
Grant  area  where  the  stumps  were  very  difficult  to  remove  because  of  the  clay  in  the  soil. 
He  found  his  job  much  easier  in  the  White  Cloud  area  because  of  the  sandy  conditions. 

Romie  met  the  Dudgeons  when  he  contracted  to  buy  a  load  of  cedar  fence  posts 
from  them.  It  was  at  this  time  that  Romie  first  met  Meady. 

APR         1920 

Lee  Dudgeon,  Meady's  brother,  who  was  22  years  old  at  the  time,  5'9",  1 78  lbs., 
brown  hair,  hazel  eyes,  and  a  dark  beard,  spent  90  days  in  the  White  Cloud  jail  for  assault 
and  battery.  He  did  not  drink  or  smoke  and  only  attended  school  until  the  sixth  grade. 

MAY  20,  1920 

The  head  of  the  Dudgeon  family,  Charles  H..  Dudgeon,  died  at  the  age  of  68.  He 
was  buried  at  the  Goodwell  To\Miship  Cemetery,  across  the  road  from  the  north  three- 
quarter  section  of  his  property. 

i\lAR29,  1921 

Romie  "Doc"  Hodell,  age  26,  and  Meady  Dudgeon,  age  20,  were  married. 
Meady's  brother,  Lee,  gave  Romie  the  money  for  the  marriage  license.  Romie  was  aware 
that  Meady  had  kept  company  with  Carl  Sailors,  a  man  who  her  brother  Wilmer  worked 
for.  Romie  was  very  jealous  of  Sailors  when  he  would  show  up  at  the  Dudgeon's  house. 

JAN  20,  1922 

Romie  and  Meady  received  a  letter  from  Romie's  mother,  Nina  Hodell,  telling  them 
they  would  be  visited  by  Romie's  father,  David  Hodell,  who  was  carpenter  and  bam 
builder.  David  and  Nina  Hodell  were  having  marital  problems,  so  David  Hodell  left  his 
wife  running  a  rooming  house  in  Detroit,  to  stay  with  his  children. 

JAN  21,  1922 

On  an  errand  to  his  sister's  house,  Mrs.  Roy  Cook,  Romie  found  his  father,  David 
Hodell,  who  accompanied  him  home  to  his  house  on  2  Mile  Road  at  2:30  pm.  Romie, 
Meady,  and  David  Hodell  ate  supper  at  the  Dudgeon's  house  that  night. 

FEB    4,  1922 

David  Hodell,  age  67,  died  at  2:45  pm  while  Romie  was  at  work  in  Woodville, 
Michigan.  He  died  on  his  return  from  the  woodpile,  at  which  time  Meady  ran  across  the 
road  for  help  from  Mrs.  Fred  (Cornelia)  Anderson.  Dr.  Price  T.  Waters  and  Undertaker 
Alex  J.  McKinley  were  summoned  from  White  Cloud.  Dr.  Waters  attributed  Hodell's 
death  to  apoplexy.  Lee  Dudgeon  donated  the  coat  from  his  suit  for  David  Hodell  to  be 
buried  in.  Romie  gave  his  blue  serge  pants  and  Undertaker  McKinley  provided  a  shirt. 

FEB    8,  1922 

David  Hodell  was  buried  at  the  Ashland  Center  Cemetery  in  Grant,  Michigan 

FEB  10,  1922 

Romie  and  Meady,  who  had  previously  lived  on  2  Mile  Road  in  Wilcox  Township 
on  property  owned  by  Fred  Anderson,  rented  a  house  from  Jake  Terwillegar  in  Good  well 
Township.  Romie  had  been  in  the  process  of  purchasing  the  land  from  Anderson  when  his 
stumping  business  faltered  and  he  moved  to  Terwillegar's  place.  He  was  $1 800  in  debt. 

APR  28,  1922 

Romie  and  Meady  Hodell  accompanied  Meady's  brothers,  Lee  and  Wilmer 
Dudgeon  to  Fremont,  Michigan  in  the  Dudgeon  brother's  new  Chevrolet  truck.  (White 
Cloud  Eagle  /  East  Wilcox  Township  May  4,  1922). 

MAY  5,  1922 

Besides  Robert  Bennett,  Elzie  Priest  was  another  man  who  hired  on  to  work  fci 
Romie.  Being  short  of  money,  Romie  sent  Priest  to  Clarence  Rittenhouse's  farm  to  ask 
him  to  buy  one  of  Romie's  horses,  but  Rittenhouse  refrised.  Romie  was  so  mad  at 
Rittenhouse  for  not  being  interested  in  purchasing  the  horse,  he  grabbed  his  22  rifle  and 
started  after  him,  but  Meady  stopped  him. 





stroke,  damage  of  the  brain  due  to  a  blockage  in  blood  flow,  or  to  a  hemorrhage  of  blood  vessels  in 
the  brain.  Without  blood,  sections  of  brain  tissue  quickly  deteriorate  or  die.  resulting  in  paralysis  of 
limbs  or  organs  controlled  by  the  affected  brain  area.  Most  strokes  are  associated  with  high  blood 
pressure  or  arteriosclerosis,  or  both.  Some  of  the  signs  of  major  stroke  are  facial  weakness,  inability  to 
talk,  loss  of  bladder  control,  difficulty  in  breathing  and  swallowing,  and  paralysis  or  weakness, 
particularly  on  one  side  of  the  body.  Stroke  is  also  called  cerebral  apoplexy  and  cerebrovascular 
accident  (CVA). 


The  majority  of  stroke  cases  are  due  to  arterial  blockage  caused  by  either  thrombosis  or  embolism. 
Thrombosis  involves  the  gradual  building  up  of  fatty  substances,  or  arteriosclerotic  plaque,  in  one  or 
more  of  the  four  arteries  leading  to  the  brain.  As  these  arteries  become  narrowed,  a  potential  stroke 
victim  often  experiences  recurrent  warnings  of  transient  paralysis,  such  as  in  one  arm  or  leg  or  on  one 
side  of  the  face,  or  discovers  impairments  in  speech,  vision,  or  other  motor  functions.  At  this  stage, 
deposits  in  the  linings  of  the  cerebral  arteries  can  often  be  treated  by  surgery,  including  laser  surgery 
and  microsurgical  bypass  of  blockages.  Anticoagulant  drugs,  changes  in  diet,  and  even  daily  doses  of 
aspirin  are  also  used.  Actual  thrombosis  occurs  when  an  artery  has  occluded,  leading  to  permanent 
brain  damage 

Embolism  occurs  when  a  cerebral  artery  suddenly  becomes  blocked  by  material  coming  from  another 
part  of  the  bloodstream.  Such  solid  masses,  or  emboli,  often  form  as  clots  in  a  diseased  or 
malfunctioning  heart,  but  can  also  come  from  dislodged  fragments  of  arteriosclerotic  plaque  or  even 
an  air  bubble.  Treatment  is  largely  preventive,  consisting  of  monitoring  of  the  diet,  and,  if  possible, 
use  of  anticoagulants. 

Hemorrhaging  of  cerebral  blood  vessels,  a  less  frequent  cause  of  stroke,  occurs  most  often  where 
aneurysms,  or  blisterlike  bulges,  develop  on  the  forks  of  large  cerebral  arteries  on  the  brain  surface. 
The  rupture  of  aneurysms  causes  brain  damage,  due  to  either  the  seeping  of  blood  into  brain  tissue  or 
the  reduced  flow  of  blood  to  the  brain  beyond  the  point  of  rupture. 


Rehabilitation  from  stroke  requires  specialized  help  from  neurologists,  physical  therapists,  speech 
therapists,  and  other  medical  persons — especially  during  the  first  six  months,  when  most  progress  is 
made.  Passive  stretching  exercises  and  thermal  applications  are  used  to  regain  motor  control  of  limbs, 
which  become  rigidly  flexed  after  stroke  has  occurred.  A  patient  may  recover  enough  to  do  pulley  and 
bicycle  exercises  for  the  arms  and  legs  and,  through  speech  therapy,  may  regain  the  language 
abilities  often  lost  following  a  stroke;  the  degree  of  recovery  varies  greatly  from  patient  to  patient.  The 
death  rate  among  stroke  victims  in  the  U.S.  has  dropped  noticeably  since  1950.  In  part  this  may  be 
due  to  the  increasing  recognition  of  the  leading  role  of  hypertension  in  stroke,  with  resulting  dietary 
changes  such  as  lower  intake  of  saturated  fats  and  cholesterol.  Increased  awareness  of  the  dangers  of 
smoking  may  also  be  a  factor.  Nevertheless,  stroke  remains  the  third  leading  cause  of  death  in  the 
U.S.,  following  coronary  artery  disease  and  cancer.  About  400,000  Americans  suffer  new  strokes  each 
year,  and  in  about  165,000  persons  the  strokes  prove  fatal.  Researchers  are  now  studying  the  possible 
use  of  the  brain  opiate  dynorphin  for  increasing  survival. 

"Stroke,"  Microsoft  (R)  Encarta.  Copyright  (c)  1994  Microsoft  Corporation.  Copyright 
(c)  1994  Funl<  &  Wagnalis  Corporation. 



Romie  contracted  to  do  a  "stumping"  job  on  the  Dudley  Smith  farm  in  Wooster, 
1 7  miles  away  and  planned  on  taking  Meady  with  him  to  live  in  a  shack.  Meady  had 
accompanied  him  on  other  jobs  and  disliked  living  in  a  shack  away  from  family  and 
friends.  Lee  and  Herman  had  agreed  to  drive  Romie  and  Meady's  furniture  out  to  the 
shack  in  their  truck,  when  Carl  Sailors  showed  up.  Romie  had  suspected  Sailors  of  seeing 
Meady  while  he  was  at  work,  and  had  a  fit  when  he  saw  him.  Words  were  exchanged 
between  Romie  and  Herman  which  developed  into  a  fist  fight.  Lee  joined  in,  and  Romie 
took  a  bad  beating  from  the  both  of  them.  Romie  forced  Meady  to  walk  down  the  road 
ahead  of  him  in  the  rain.  He  talked  at  length  of  them  both  dying  together  and  finally  told 
Meady  that  he  wanted  her  to  go  to  White  Cloud  to  see  Attorney  Harold  Cogger  about  a 

Meady,  in  a  letter  written  in  prison  to  the  county  historian,  H.L.  Spooner, 
said  that  on  this  day,  Romie  confided  in  her  that  twelve  years  earlier  he  had  helped 
bury  a  woman  named  Nellie  Reynolds  in  Ensley  Center,  Michigan.   Romie  had 
heard  that  men  working  on  a  road  had  uncovered  a  skeleton  and  had  taken  it  to  the 
local  undertaker  and  that  authorities  were  investigating. 

Romie  and  Meady  spent  the  night  at  the  Dudgeon  house,  where  Romie  slept  with 
Lee  and  Meady  slept  with  her  mother,  Alice  Dudgeon. 

MAY  6,  1922 

Romie,  who  had  decided  not  to  work  that  day  because  it  was  raining,  went  to  his 
rented  bam  on  the  Terwillegar  place  to  feed  his  horses.  He  was  told  by  Alice  Dudgeon 
that  his  breakfast  would  be  ready  upon  his  return.  Not  returning  for  breakfast,  Lee  and 
Robert  Bennett  (another  of  Romie's  hired  hands)  went  to  the  bam  where  they  found 
Romie  hanging  by  the  horse  harness.  Meady  and  her  brothers,  Lee  and  Herman  drove  to 
White  Cloud  to  notify  the  authorities  shortly  after  noon.  Sheriff  Nobel  A.  McKinley, 
Deputy  Sheriff  Winfie Id  E.  Patterson,  Justice  Of  The  Peace  /  Undertaker  Waker  B.  Reed, 
and  Prosecuting  Attomey  Harold  J.  Cogger  were  told  of  Romie's  death.  Romie's  body 
was  found  by  the  officials  hung  with  his  feet  touching  the  ground  and  his  knees  flexed.  In 
addition,  one  eye  was  blackened,  his  lip  was  cut,  and  there  was  a  cut  over  one  eye  and 
another  on  his  cheek.  Ht  was  also  noted  that  there  was  evidence  of  mud  or  sand  on  his 
shoulders.  The  authorities  had  a  difficult  time  putting  the  body  in  the  rear  seat  of  Sheriff 
McKinley's  car  because  Romie  had  a  stiff  leg.  Attomey  Cogger  rode  in  the  back  seat  with 
the  body,  while  McKinley,  Patterson,  and  Reed  were  in  the  front.  Romie  and  Meady  were 
only  married  fourteen  months  at  the  time  of  his  death. 

Carl  Sailors  took  Meady,  Lee,  Wilmer,  and  Robert  Bennett  to  White  Cloud  in  his 
car  so  Meady  could  deliver  some  underwear  she  had  purchased  to  the  undertaker  for 
Romie's  body. 

At  the  inquest  before  Justice  Of  The  Peace  /  Undertaker,  Walter  B.  Reed,  the  post- 
mortem examination  by  Drs.  Weaver,  Waters,  and  Tumer  concluded  that  the  cause  of 
death  was  not  hanging,  but  a  blow  on  the  back  of  the  neck,  two  inches  below  the  right  ear. 
The  doctors  also  testified  that  the  blow  caused  instant  death.  Romie  was  buried  at  the 
Goodwell  Cemetery  in  Goodwell  Township. 

MAY  7,  1922 


Because  of  the  hard  feelings  between  the  Holes  and  Dudgeons,  Sheriff  Nobel  A. 
McKinley  attended  Romie's  funeral  at  the  Goodwill  Township  Cemetery,  where  he  frisked 
the  participants  for  weapons. 

MAY  8,  1922 

Robert  Bennnett,  Romie's  hired  hand,  was  arrested,  but  later  released  for  the 
murder  of  Romie.  The  inquest  that  started  on  May  6,  1922  was  continued  on  May  8, 
1922.  (Robert  Bennett  was  bom  in  London,  England  and  emigrated  with  his  parents  to 
Canada  at  the  age  of  7.  He  moved  to  Newaygo  County  in  the  fall  of  1921 .  In  1922,  Mr. 
Ward,  a  man  that  Bennett  had  lived  with  in  Canada  moved  to  Newaygo  County.  It  was  at 
Ward's  house  that  Bennett  first  met  Romie.  Robert  Bennett  had  only  known  the 
Dudgeons  about  a  month  before  Romie's  death.)  He  would  later  be  arrested  again  and 
would  spend  approximately  eleven  months  behind  bars.  Bennett  received  letters  daily 
from  his  mother,  who  had  moved  back  to  London,  professing  her  belief  in  his  innocence. 

MAY  14,  1922 

Mealy  and  her  brothers,  Lee  and  Herman  had  Romie's  body  exhumed  by  the  sexton 
of  the  Goodwill  Cemetery  because  of  rumors  that  the  body  had  been  taken  away  on  the 
night  of  the  fLineral. 

MAY  15,  1922 

The  inquest  held  on  May  6th  and  May  8th  was  concluded  on  May  1 5th. 

It  was  determined  during  the  inquest,  that  the  "suicide  notes  given  to  the 
authorities  by  Lee  Dudgeon  were  not  in  Romie's  handwriting. 

"Dearest .•  /  can  not  write  words  to  the  effect  that  I  want  to 

but  tell  my  mother  not  to  feel  bad  for  me  or  you  either.   I  wrote  a  note  in  my 
book  for  you  but  my  emotions  has  changed  sinse  then  so  I  am  writing  you  this. 

Please  don't  marry my  last  request.   One  who  give  his  life  for  you.  " 


Carl  Sailors  was  the  name  omitted  in  Please  don't  marry my  last 


The  above  note  was  wTitten  on  a  calendar.  The  following  was  wTitten  on  a  leaf  of 
paper  from  a  note  book. 

" when  you  read  this  I  will  be  no  more.  Don't  look  for  me  as 

you  will  never  fuid  me  until  it  is  to  late.    You  hiow  I  to  you  J  would  rather  be  dead  as  see 
you  go  wrong. "  Qne  who  loves  you. 


Mrs.  Nina  Hodell,  Romie's  mother  and  Roy  Cook,  Romie's  brother-in-law  testified 
that  the  "suicide"  notes  were  not  written  in  Romie's  handwriting.  Later  confessions  stated 
that  Meady  wrote  the  notes.  In  newspaper  reports  during  Meady's  trial  it  was  stated  that 
there  were  not  two  but  three  "suicide"  notes. 

JUN29,  1922 




Meady  visited  iier  sister-in-law,  Lola  (Hodell)  Priest  in  Big  Rapids,  Michigan  wath 
her  nephew,  Cecil  Robinson.  (White  Cloud  Eagle  /  East  Wilcox  Township  July  6,  1922 

JUL  30,  1922 

Lee  and  Herman  Dudgeon  are  met  on  the  road  near  the  Fulkerson  School  on  a 
threshing  outfit  they  were  moving  for  a  neighbor  by  nineteen  vigilantes.  (The  Fulkerson 
School  was  located  on  the  comer  of  Thomapple  and  1  Mile  Roads  in  Wilcox  TowTiship) 
They  were  ordered  to  get  down,  but  they  refused.  Roy  Cook  climbed  on  the  separator 
and  pushed  Herman,  who  fell  against  Lee  and  they  both  jumped  to  save  themselves  fi-om 
falling.  Lee  and  Herman  were  separated  and  ropes  were  placed  around  their  necks.  They 
were  told  that  if  they  did  not  confess  they  would  be  lynched.  Paul  Andrews, 
Superintendent  of  Schools,  a  member  of  the  "lynch  mob"  stated  that  when  the  rope  was 
pulled  tight  around  Lee  Dudgeon's  neck  he  said  he  would  confess.  When  the  rope  was 
loosened,  he  refused  to  confess.  This  took  place  twice,  when  Forrest  Hodell,  Romie's 
brother,  tied  the  rope  to  his  motorcycle  and  pulled  out  all  the  slack.  The  rest  of  the  mob 
got  nervous  over  Forrest's  move  knowing  he  had  a  "suicide  clutch"  and  any  attempt  to 
stop  him  could  cause  his  foot  to  slip.  Herman  was  ready  to  confess  almost  immediately, 
and  this  final  ploy  by  Forrest  convinced  Lee  to  confess.  All  concerned,  later  testified  that 
the  Dudgeon  brother's  feet  never  left  the  ground  and  that  the  ropes  were  just  pulled  tight. 
The  tree  used  to  "lynch"  the  brothers  was  a  maple  that  sat  between  the  Jake  E.  TerwilTegar 
house  and  bam.  (The  "lynching"  tree  was  cut  down  in  the  late  1980's  by  the  county 
who  claimed  it  was  a  road  hazard.)  Later  testimony  revealed  that  it  only  took  the  mob 
five  minutes  to  get  the  confession.  The  Dudgeons  received  black  eyes  Lee,  a  broken  nose, 
not  to  mention  the  rope  bums  on  their  necks. 

/,  Lee  Dudgeon,  don'l  know  how  R.D.  Hodell  was  murdered,  but  I 
do  know  that  he  was  murdered  by  Robert  Bennett.   My  brother,  Herman 
and  myself  helped  hang  R.D.  Hodell  in  the  upper  story  of  Jake 
Terwillegar's  barn  after  he  was  killed.   Bennett  came  to  our  place  and 
asked  us  to  go  with  him.  I  asked,  "What  for?  And  he  said  he  wanted  us  to 
hang  "Doc"  in  the  barn.   I  told  him  that  I  didn't  wish  to  do  anything  of  the 
kind,  and  he  said,  "If you  don't  I  will  put  you  fellows  in  the  same  place.  " 
He  had  his  hand  in  his  coat  pocket  where  his  gun  was  concealed  and  we 
went  with  him.  After  hanging  "Doc"  up,  Bennett  said,  "By  God,  he  won't 
bother  anybody  else. " 
The  confession  was  signed  by  Lee  and  Herman  Dudgeon  and  several  witnesses  and 
presented  to  Justice  of  the  Peace  /  Undertaker  Walter  B.  Reed,  who  was  summoned  to  the 
school  house  fi-om  White  Cloud.  He  left  almost  immediately  because  he  was  conducting  a 
funeral  that  aftemoon.  The  Dudgeons  changed  their  confession  and  this  was  recorded  by 
Justice  Guy  Merrill.  Since  Sheriff  Nobel  A.  McKinley  was  out  of  town,  Deputy  Sheriff 
Winfield  E.  Patterson  was  summoned.  Patterson  released  the  Dudgeon  brothers  and 
arrested  Robert  Bennett  for  a  second  time  at  the  home  of  Frank  James  in  Goodwell 
Township.  Bennett  was  kept  in  a  dungeon  containing  no  cot  or  chair  and  was  compelled 
to  sleep  on  the  floor  with  only  a  blanket.  He  received  as  little  as  four  meals  per  week. 
Patterson  later  arrested  Lee,  Herman,  and  Wilmer  Dudgeon  at  their  home. 






^:^^  .i/rmj 



































^— ^ 




































1— ' 








' — ■" 















^    ' 
















' — 









v  :?-r' 



:■■  •  '"^  ■  :' 





3  MILE 

3  MILE 



DiiJgean  5m  awp 

Dudgeon  House 

1  MILE 

1  MILE 

3  Mil 

2  MILE 

Bam  Babys  Foui;id  Buried 

1  M 

House  Rented  From  Terwillegar 

Lynching  Tree 
Barp'-Wliere  Romie  Was  Found 

Dudgeon  School 




Trumbull  Co 


Newly  appointed  Special  Prosecutor  William  J.  Branstrom  requests  help  from  Roy 
C.  Vandercook  of  the  Michigan  State  Police  in  Lansing  after  Alice  Dudgeon  requests 
protection  for  her  family.  (Branstrom  later  becomes  an  attorney  for  Gerber  Baby 
Foods  in  Fremont,  Michigan.) 

AUG   1,  1922 

Sergeant  George  E.  Karkeet  of  the  Michigan  State  Police  arrived  in  White  Cloud 
from  Lansing,  Michigan. 

The  Dudgeon  boys,  their  mother,  Alice  Dudgeon,  and  their  sister,  Meady  are  taken 
to  Fremont,  Michigan  for  questioning  by  Special  Prosecutor,  William  J.  Branstrom. 

AUG  2,  1922 

Trooper  Ernest  G.  Ramsey  of  the  Michigan  State  Police  arrived  in  White  Cloud 
from  Lansing. 

AUG  4,  1922 

Prosecuting  Attorney  William  J.  Branstrom  and  Sheriff  Nobel  A.  McKinley  sent 
the  "suicide"  notes  to  a  handwriting  expert  in  Detroit  with  Attorney  H.J.  Cogger.  The 
expert  declared  the  notes  genuine. 

AUG  5,  1922 

Sergeant  John  Palmer  of  the  Michigan  State  Police  arrived  in  White  Cloud  from 
Lansing.  The  three  policemen  arrived  at  the  request  of  White  Cloud's  Special  Prosecuting 
Attorney,  William  J.  Branstrom  to  protect  the  Dudgeons  and  investigate  the  actions  of  the 
vigilantes.  Almost  immediately  they  turned  their  investigation  on  the  Dudgeons. 

AUG  8,1922 

Sergeant  Palmer  and  Trooper  Ramsey  borrowed  two  white  sheets  from  Mrs. 
Beatrice  Hurst,  wife  of  Big  Rapids'  sheriff. 

Lee  and  Herman  are  driven  to  Big  Rapids  by  the  three  policemen  and  grilled  till 
they  confess  to  knowing  that  their  sister,  Meady  killed  her  husband  and  father-in-law. 
They  are  left  in  the  Big  Rapids  jail. 

AUG  9,1922 

Meady  was  also  driven  to  Big  Rapids  and  grilled  by  the  police  where  she  confessed 
before  Prosecuting  Attorney  Arthur  J.  Butler  to  the  poisoning  of  her  father-in-law  and  the 
murder  of  her  husband.  Meady  was  also  left  in  the  Big  Rapids  jail. 

AUG  10,  1922 

After  being  driven  to  Big  Rapids  for  interrogation,  Alice  Dudgeon  confessed  to  the 
murder  of  Romie  and  knowledge  that  her  daughter,  Meady,  poisoned  her  father-in-law, 
David  Hodell.  She  was  left  in  the  Big  Rapids  jail.  Confessions  by  Lee,  Herman,  Alice, 
and  Meady  were  taken  by  A.W.  Bennett,  notary  public. 

Alice  Dudgeon  and  Meady  told  officers  that  they  were  bothered  by  ghosts  until  the 
time  of  their  confessions. 


AUG  IL  1922 

The  quartet  was  brought  back  to  White  Cloud  where  they  were  arraigned  before 
Justice  of  the  Peace  Walter  B.  Reed.  Each  waived  examination  and  were  bound  over  to 
the  circuit  court.  Wilmer  Dudgeon,  who  was  away  at  the  time  of  the  crime,  was  detained 
for  a  few  days  but  not  charged. 

Prosecuting  Attorney  William  J.  Banstrom  called  the  newspaper  men  and  gave 
them  the  details  of  the  confessions.  "Branstrom  fijrther  told  the  family  affiliations  which 
had  taken  place  of  a  repulsive  nature,  which  cannot  be  printed."  (This  was  probably  the 
incest  committed  bet>veen  Meady  and  her  brothers  previously  mentioned.) 

Lola  Cook  visited  her  mother,  Alice  Dudgeon  in  the  Big  Rapids' jail. 

AUG  12,  1922 

Sergeant  Karkeet  and  Palmer,  and  Trooper  Ramsey  returned  to  Lansing, 

AUG  15,  1922 

David  Hodell's  body  was  exhumed,  by  order  of  the  court,  from  Ashland  Center 
Cemetery  in  Grant,  Michigan. 

AUG  17,  1922 

Sheriff  Nobel  A.  McKinley,  who  had  been  criticized  by  the  residents  of  White 
Cloud  for  his  handling  of  the  case,  made  a  statement  to  the  newspaper  that  he  wished  the 
public  to  know  he  had  been  working  quietly  behind  the  scenes. 

Alice  Dudgeon  was  visited  in  jail  by  her  attorney,  A.  A.  Worcester. 

AUG  18,  1922 

The  "h-nch"  mob  was  arraigned  before  Justice  of  the  Peace  /  Undertaker  Walter  B. 
Reed  where  all  the  defendants  pleaded  guilty  and  were  fined  S25.00  plus  court  costs.  This 
was  reduced  to  a  fine  of  $1.00  each.  (It  was  said  that  if  any  fines  were  levied  against 
the  mob,  the  people  of  White  Cloud  would  take  up  a  collection  for  them.  There  was 
also  talk  of  presenting  medals  to  each  of  the  vigilantes,  but  this  never  came  about.) 

AUG  24,  1922 

Alice,  Lee,  and  Herman  Dudgeon,  Meady  Hodell,  and  Robert  Bennett  all  reputed 
their  confessions.  Alice  Dudgeon  used  the  deed  to  her  farm  to  secure  the  service  of 
Defense  Attorneys  Alpheus  A.  Worcester  of  Big  Rapids,  Michigan  and  Arthur  W.  Penney 
of  Cadillac,  Michigan.  The  defense  attorneys  were  secured  by  Alice  Dudgeon's  daughter, 
Lola  Priest. 

An  article  written  by  Gayle  Hodell  appeared  in  the  White  Cloud  Eagle  defending 
the  investigation  being  conducted  by  Sheriif  Nobel  A.  McKinley. 

SEP  14,  1922 




The  vital  organs  of  David  Hodell's  body  which  had  been  exhumed  on  August  15th 
and  sent  to  the  State  Chemist,  Charles  Bliss  in  Lansing,  Michigan,  were  reported  to 
contain  sufficient  strychnine  poison  to  kill  a  dozen  men. 





OCT  10-25,  1922 

*  The  trial  of  Mealy  (Dudgeon)  Howell  came  before  Circuit  Judge  Joseph  Barton  in 
White  Cloud,  Michigan. 

*  The  jury  of  twelve  men  were  chosen  from  sixty-seven  interviewed  during  a  two 
day  process.  All  were  farmers  with  at  least  ten  years  in  their  occupation. 

*  A.H.  Courtney  was  deputized  to  attend  the  door  of  the  court  room  to  see  that  no 
one  entered  after  the  room  was  filled. 

*  "The  sentiment  in  Newaygo  County  was  very'  bitter  against  the  defendants,  and 
motions  were  made  in  this  case  by  the  attorneys  for  the  respondents  for  a  change  of  venue, 
on  the  grounds  that  the  defendants  could  not  receive  a  fair  and  impartial  trail  in  Newaygo 
County.  These  motions  were  all  denied  by  Judge  Joseph  Barton." 

*  "Judge  Barton  made  the  statement  that  of  about  1 00  murder  cases  which  he  had 
conducted,  this  case  had  the  most  angles  and  ramifications  of  any  he  had  ever  heard.  His 
experience  included  ha\ang  had  charge  of  all  the  criminal  cases  in  Wayne  County  for  a 
period  of  six  years  and  several  cases  in  the  Upper  Peninsula.  Both  places  had  a  large 
foreign  element  among  whom  murders  were  not  very  common." 

*  The  opening  statement  of  Prosecuting  Attorney  William  J.  Branstrom,  stated  that 
he  would  prove  Meady  had  killed  her  aged  father-in-law,  David  Hodell,  by  poisoning,  and 
that  she  said  to  a  woman  at  the  fijneral  "/  am  afraid  (hey  will  have  me  arrested,  I  think 
they  believe  I  killed  the  old  man. "  Branstrom  said  he  would  prove  that  Meady  admitted 
to  six  person  she  poisoned  Mr.  Hodell. 




*  The  Defense  Attorneys.  Arthur  \V.  Penney  and  .AJpheus  A.  Worcester  made  a 
request,  which  was  granted,  that  all  witnesses  except  the  one  being  used  on  the  stand  be 
excluded  from  the  court  room. 

*  Meady  sat  expressionless,  apparently  unmoved  by  what  was  taking  place.  She  had 
thick  dark  hair  which  was  combed  over  her  narrow  forehead  and  a  rather  wide  mouth, 
closed  in  a  straight  line  o\'er  a  pointed  chin.  Also  in  court  was  David  Hodell's  wife,  Nina, 
who  was  accompanied  by  two  of  her  sons,  Forrest  and  Gayle,  members  of  the  "lynch" 

*  Judge  Barton  admonished  the  jury  not  to  discuss  the  case  among  themseh'es  or 
read  the  newspapers.  The  jury  was  locked  up  at  night  at  the  Wayside  Inn  under  the  charge 
of  Deputy  Sheriff  Patterson.  Judge  Barton  also  cautioned  the  jury  about  over-eating  and 
insisted  that  they  take  a  long  walk  twice  a  day  in  custody  of  the  Sheriffs  officers. 

*  Mrs.  David  Hodell  testified  she  was  in  Detroit  with  two  of  her  sons  receiving 
medical  treatment  at  the  time  her  husband  died. 

*  Mrs.  Fred  (Cornelia)  Anderson,  wife  of  Fred  Anderson,  a  member  of  the 
vigilantes,  was  called  to  testify.  She  testified  that  Romie  and  Meady  lived  across  the  road 
from  the  Anderson  farm  in  Wilcox  Township.  She  stated  that  she  had  seen  David  Hodell 
working  on  the  woodpile  at  10:00  am  on  February  4th  apparently  in  good  heakh.  Mrs. 
Anderson  testified  that  Meady  called  her  over  to  the  Hodell  house  at  2:00  pm  that 
afternoon  where  she  saw  David  Hodell  lying  dead. 

*  Dr.  P.T.  Waters  next  testified  that  he  was  called  to  the  Hodell  house  at  the  time  of 
David  Hodell's  death  and  stated  that  he  had  pronounced  death  due  to  apoplexy. 

*  Undertaker  A.J.  McKinley  testified  about  the  embalming  of  David  Hodell's  body. 
The  defense  suggested  that  the  poison  found  in  the  body  could  have  been  embalming  fluid. 

*  Forrest  Hodell  testified  that  he  was  called  to  the  Hodell  home  following  the  death 
of  this  father  and  was  told  by  Meady  that  his  father  had  fallen  two  or  three  tiines. 

*  David  Hodell's  daughter,  Lola  Cook  testified  that  her  father  and  brother,  Romie 
had  walked  two  or  three  miles  to  her  house  and  how  healthy  her  father  had  looked  just  a 
couple  of  days  before. 

*  Sergeant  George  E.  Karkeet  of  the  Michigan  State  Police  testified  that  he  and 
Sergeant  John  Palmer  were  driving  Meady  to  Big  Rapids  when  they  abruptly  stopped  the 
vehicle  at  the  Cobb  School,  mile  from  town  and  asked  her  what  she  put  in  her  father-in- 
law's  coffee.  Meady  made  no  reply  until  Karkeet  suggested  that  Hodell  was  a  lot  of 
trouble  for  her.  Meady  said,  "Yes,  the  old  man  was  his  of  care.  "  She  also  stated  some  of 
the  reasons  she  thought  Hodell  was  a  burden  to  her.  Once  again,  Karkeet  asked  what  she 
put  in  his  coffee,  to  which  she  replied,  "Some  poison  someone  left  in  the  hovse  before 

^        11 


we  moved  there.  "  Upon  arriving  in  Big  Rapids,  Palmer  called  Prosecuting  Attorney 
Arthur  J.  Butler  to  notify  him  of  the  confession.  They  later  went  to  Butler's  office  were  a 
verbal  confession  was  made.  A  statement  made  by  Meady  that  the  old  man  would  still  be 
alive  if  he  had  not  drank  his  coffee  coupled  with  a  clue  given  by  Herman  Dudgeon,  gave 
the  police  the  theory  that  Meady  poisoned  her  father-in-law. 

During  Karkeet"s  testimony,  the  jury  was  removed  from  the  court  room,  while 
Attorney  Penney  attempted  to  convince  the  court  that  the  confessions  were  obtained 
through  fear  and  mistreatment.  Penney  charged  that  the  trio  from  the  Michigan  State 
Police  took  Meady  from  the  county  jail  late  one  night  to  a  lonely  school  house  where  they  ' 
threatened  that  unless  she  confessed,  she  would  be  taken  to  the  Terwillegar  bam  to  be 
confronted  by  the  spirits  of  her  husband  and  father-in-law.  Penney  also  claimed  that  she 
was  so  frightened,  that  she  confessed.  It  was  also  alleged,  that  Lee  Dudgeon  was  taken 
from  jail  late  at  night  to  the  Terwillegar  bam  where  he  was  confronted  by  a  "ghost"  who 
pointed  an  accusing  finger  at  Dudgeon  naming  him  as  one  of  the  conspirators  in  his  death. 
The  troopers  then  took  Dudgeon  to  the  ground  and  placed  a  rope  around  his  neck, 
threatening  him  with  hanging  unless  he  confessed.   Penney  also  stated  that  Alice  Dudgeon, 
Herman  Dudgeon,  and  Robert  Bennett's  confessions  were  obtained  in  the  same  manner. 
(Complaints  by  the  defendants  in  all  three  trials  of  "strong  arm  tactics"  by  the  three 
policemen  were  prominent.  It  was  reported  that  when  a  defendant  was  taken  to  the 
Terwillegar  bam,  they  were  interrogated  by  one  policeman  while  the  other  two  tried  to 
"spook"  them.  The  two  policemen  wore  sheets,  made  noises,  and  spoke  from  the 
shadows  trying  to  convince  the  defendants  that  the  "ghosts"  of  David  and  Romie  Hodell 
wanted  them  to  confess.) 

The  statement  made  by  Alice  Dudgeon  and  Meady  Hodell  on  August  10th  that  they 
confessed  because  they  had  been  bothered  by  ghosts  probably  gave  the  idea  to  the 
police  to  coerce  confessions  from  the  defendants  with  fear  of  reprisals  from  the 
ghosts  of  David  and  Romie  Hodell.  Lee  Dudgeon  had  stated  that  he  had  seen  ghosts 
in  the  fields  before  he  was  arrested. 

The  jury  was  returned  to  the  court  room  and  upon  direst  examination  by  Penney, 
Karkeet  told  about  Meady's  written  confession  before  Justice  of  the  Peace  Waker  B.  Reed 
and  Prosecutor  Branstrom. 

Attorney  Penney,  considering  Karkeet  was  sidestepping  his  question,  tumed  to  the 
people  in  the  court  room  and  said.  He  is  too  cute  for  rrie.  "  Later  Penney  asked  Karkeet 
"Do  you  get  a  commission  on  convictions?"  Branstrom  objected  and  the  court  ordered 
the  question  stricken  from  the  records. 

Karkeet  also  testified  that  Meady  told  him  that  she  had  written  the  "suicide"  notes. 

*  The  signed  confession,  which  was  identified  by  Sergeant  John  Palmer,  was  read  to 

the  jury.  Attorney  Penney  began  snapping  his  fingers  at  Palmer  and  Branstrom  and 
Penney  go  into  an  argument  over  his  actions.  Branstrom  complained  that  Penney  was 
trying  to  intimidate  the  witness.  Sergeant  Palmer  fijrther  testified  that  he  had  accompanied 
the  other  two  policemen  when  the  defendants  were  removed  from  jail,  but  that  at  no  time 
were  they  mistreated  or  were  "ghosts"  used. 


*  Trooper  Ernest  G.  Ramsey's  testimony  was  a  repetition  of  Sergeant  Karkeet  and 
Sergeant  Palmers'. 

*  Sheriff  Nobel  A.  McKinley  testified  of  the  arrival  of  the  three  State  Policemen 
from  Lansing  and  that  Trooper  Ramsey  had  installed  a  Dictaphone  in  the  jail. 

*  Miss  Fern  Miller,  stenographer  for  Prosecutor  Branstrom,  told  of  receiving  the 
confession  of  Meady  on  August  1 1  th.    "The  old  man  was  sick  and  miserable.   He  asked 
me  to  put  him  out  of  the  way,  and  I  thought  it  would  be  better  for  him  and  better  for  us  if 
he  were  over  there— so  I  did  it. " 

*  Undertaker  Alex  J.  McKinley  testified  that  he  embalmed  the  body  of  David  Hodell 
February  7th  and  disinterred  the  body  on  August  15th  for  the  State  Chemist,  Charles  Bliss. 
McKinley  stated  that  he  gave  Bliss  a  14  ounce  bottle  of  embalming  fluid  he  used  when 
embalming  David  Hodell. 

*  Charles  Egolf,  se.xton  of  the  Ashland  Center  Cemeter\-  in  Grant,  testified  that  the 
grave  of  David  Hodell  was  undisturbed  from  the  time  of  the  funeral  until  the  body  was 
exhumed  on  August  15th. 

*  State  Chemist,  Charles  Bliss  testified  to  conducting  the  autopsy  on  David  Hodell. 
He  stated  that  he  removed  the  stomach,  kidneys,  liver,  and  spleen  which  he  tested  for  and 
found  strychnine  poison.  Attorney  goes  into  minute  details  on  the  analysis  of  the  chemist. 
Penney,  who  had  shown  a  remarkable  knowledge  of  chemistry  in  court,  had  studied 
chemistry  at  the  University  of  Michigan  and  later  taught  the  subject  in  high  schools  in 
Iowa  and  Illinois.  Mr.  Bliss  described  the  symptoms  of  strychnine  poisoning.   He  stated 
that  at  first  there  was  a  feeling  of  uneasiness,  followed  by  a  gradual  tightening  of  the 
muscles  and  then  intermittent  convulsions  until  death.  The  defense  attempted  to  have  the 
testimony  excluded  when  the  witness  admitted  he  had  never  studied  or  practiced  medicine, 
but  it  was  allowed  to  stand.  Attorney  Penney  attempted  to  lead  the  witness  into  the 
discussion  of  medical  subjects  until  the  court  intervened. 

The  defense  brought  out  that  Mr.  Bliss  and  a  member  of  the  state  police  visited 
Big  Rapids  drug  stores  in  an  effort  to  ascertain  if  any  of  the  Dudgeon  family  had 
purchased  strychnine  poison  at  any  time  previous  to  Hodell's  death. 

Contention  of  the  defense  that  a  person  would  be  unable  to  swallow  a  cup  of 
coffee  containing  a  spoonfiil  of  strychnine  on  account  of  its  extreme  bitterness  was  refuted 
by  the  witness  who  testified  that  he  had  known  of  persons  who  had  swallowed  the 

*  Undertaker  McKinley  was  recalled  to  the  stand  to  testify  that  there  was  no 
strychnine  in  the  embalming  fluid  he  sent  to  the  chemist. 

*  Sexton  of  Ashland  Center  Cemetery  in  Grant,  Charles  Egolf  was  recalled  to  the 
stand,  where  the  defense  attempted  to  show  that  Egolf  s  advanced  years  prevented  him 
from  keeping  a  close  vigil  on  the  cemetery.  The  defense  was  suspicious  that  Hodell's  body 

■-      13 


StP/chnine,  poisonous  alkaloid,  C2iH22N-,02,  found  in  various  plants  of  the  genus  Strychnos,  and 
obtained  commercially  from  the  seeds  of  the  Saint-lgnatius's-bean  and  from  nux  vomica.  Strychnine  is 
obtained  in  colorless  or  white  rhombic  crystals,  which  have  a  bitter  taste  and  melt  at  286°  to  288°  C 
(547°  to  550°  F).  it  is  slightly  soluble  in  water  but  more  soluble  in  alcohol,  ether,  chloroform,  and 
benzene,  and  it  forms  sulfate  and  nitrate  salts  that  are  moderately  soluble  in  water. 

Strychnine  has  been  widely  used  in  medicine  as  a  stimulant  and  tonic.  In  larger  doses  than  those  used 
therapeutically,  it  causes  extreme  excitation  of  the  central  nervous  system  and  especially  of  the  spinal 
cord,  resulting  in  extreme  reflex  movements,  or  convulsions,  at  the  slightest  stimulus.  The  convulsions 
take  the  form  of  tetanic  contractions  in  the  muscles  of  the  arms,  legs,  and  body  (see  Tetanus).  Death 
from  strychnine  poisoning,  however,  results  from  paralysis  of  the  brain's  respiratory  center  rather  than 
from  convulsions.  Strychnine  is  frequently  used  as  a  poison  for  rats  and  vermin. 

"Strychnine,"  Microsoft  (R)  Encarta.  Copyright  (c)  1994  Microsoft  Corporation. 
Copyright  (c)  1994  Funk  &  Wagnails  Corporation. 



had  been  tampered  wdth  and  that  poison  had  been  placed  in  it  before  the  exhumation  on 
August  15th. 

*  It  was  at  this  point  that  the  defense  attorneys  went  into  the  life  historv'  of  Meady 
and  pictured  her  as  the  victim  of  a  plot  on  the  part  of  cenain  authorities  who  wanted  a 
"goat"  on  which  to  pin  the  crime.    "Our  little  sister  here.  "  said  the  attorney,  pointing  to 
the  defendant,  "is  the  under  dog.  She  has  been  made  to  seem  vile  and  criminal. " 

Describing  the  dinner  which  the  prosecution  contended  ended  fatally  for  David 
Hodell,  Mr.  Penney  said  it  was  a  simple  country  meal  of  bread,  potatoes,  beans,  tea,  and 
some  cookies  brought  to  the  Hodell  home  that  morning  by  a  neighbor,  Mrs.  Fred 
Anderson.  David  Hodell  slept  for  awhile  following  the  meal  and  awakening  appeared 
anxious  to  help  Meady  with  her  household  work.  Meady  was  starting  to  the  pump  for 
water,  when  Hodell  begged  her  to  let  him  help.  He  filled  the  pail  and  returned  to  the 
house.  He  complained  of  feeling  cold  and  went  to  the  woodpile  and  split  some  wood.  It 
was  while  returning  to  the  house  that  he  fell  and  Meady  rushed  to  him  and  asked,  "Dad, 
what's  the  matter?"  He  replied  that  he  felt  blind.  She  then  wiped  the  snow  from  his  face 
with  one  of  his  mittens  which  had  fallen  fi-om  his  hand.  Helping  him  towards  the  house,  he 
fell  again  and  she  lifted  him  to  his  feet.  He  fell  a  third  time  near  the  door  of  the  house  and 
Meady  became  frightened.  Mr.  Penney  asked  the  jur>'  if  they  thought  Hodell  would  have 
been  able  to  draw  water  and  split  wood  if  he  had  swallowed  a  large  dose  of  poison  only  a 
short  time  before. 

*  The  witness  that  Sergeant  Karkeet  had  testified  had  given  the  police  the  theory 
that  David  Hodell  was  poisoned,  Mrs.  Neva  Crawford  of  Grant  was  called  to  the  stand. 
Ivlrs.  Crawford  stated  that  about  a  week  after  David  Hodell's  fiineral,  Romie  and  Meady 
visited  her  and  her  husband  at  their  home  in  Grant.  After  dinner,  the  quartet  walked  to 
town  when  Meady  said,  "We  may  get  arrested  for  the  old  man 's  death.  "  "Just  what  did 
Mrs.  Hodell  say?"  inquired  Prosecutor  Branstrom.  The  witness  repeated  her  statement 
and  added,  "she  said  she  didn't  want  Mr.  Hodell  in  her  home,  that  her  husband  got  him  to 
come  there  to  spite  her  and  her  neighbors  had  been  saying  that  she  killed  him.  " 

Attorney  Worcester,  on  cross-examination,  asked  Mrs.  Crawford  if  he  and 
Attorney  Penney  had  not  visited  her  home  a  few  days  ago  and  asked  her  what  she  knew 
about  the  elder  Hodell's  death.  She  replied  that  they  had.    "You  didn't  tell  me  anything 
about  your  talk  with  Mrs.  Hodell,  did  you?"  "No,  you  didn't  ask  me. "  "Didn't  I  ask  you 
if  you  knew  any  more  about  the  case  after  we  had  discussed  Mr.  Hodell's  death?"  "J 
don't  remember  that  you  did. "  "Had you  ever  been  told  that  the  elder  Hodell  had 
suffered  a  stroke  of  apoplexy?  "  "I  had  heard  so,  but  I  don  7  know  who  told  me.  " 

On  redirect  examination,  Mrs.  Crawford  was  asked  by  the  prosecutor  if  Meady  or 
she  had  started  the  conversation  on  their  walk  to  town.    "She  began  it.  " 

*  Branstrom  who  had  held  the  "suicide"  notes  in  his  possession,  did  not  offer  them 
as  evidence  after  having  received  the  report  that  the  notes  were  genuine.  The  defense  did 
offer  the  notes  as  evidence  when  Meady  identified  her  husband's  signature. 

OCT  17,  1922 

•-      15 

*  David  Hodell's  body  was  exhumed  for  a  second  time.  His  brain  was  examined  by 
two  Fremont,  Michigan  physicians,  Drs.  William  h.  Bamum  and  Charles  B.  Long. 

On  direct  examination  by  Branstrom,  Drs.  Bamum  and  Long  testified  that  they 
opened  David  Hodell's  skull  to  determine  if  there  were  any  abnormal  condition  of  the  brain 
or  presence  of  strychnine  poison. 

Attorney  Penney  questioned  both  physicians  long  and  arduously  in  an  effort  to 
establish  that  Hodell  died  from  apoplexy.  He  showed  a  surprising  knowledge  of 
pathology  and  toxicology,  demonstrating  his  versatility.  Penney  also  queried  the 
physicians  regarding  the  extreme  bitterness  of  strychnine  and  asked  if  a  person  could 
swallow  a  cup  of  coffee  containing  a  spoonfiil  of  the  poison.   Doctor  Bamum  declared 
that  the  person  would  "know  if  he  swallowed  it".   He  asserted  his  belief  that  a  single 
swallow  of  the  strychnine-dosed  coffee  would  be  sufficient  to  cause  death. 

Questioned  by  Prosecutor  Branstrom  regarding  the  amount  of  strychnine  which 
State  Chemist  Bliss  testified  he  found  in  Hodell's  organs,  Dr  Bamum  declared  that  if  it  was 
the  poison  that  passed  in  the  circulatory  system,  rather  than  that  found  in  the  vital  organs 
after  death,  that  usually  "did  the  trick". 

Doctor  Long  on  cross-examination,  clashed  several  times  with  Attomey  Penney 
over  the  symptoms  of  apoplexy  and  as  to  the  number  and  duration  of  convulsions  a  person 
so  afflicted  might  have.  The  physician  seemed  quite  positive  as  he  described  apoplexy 
symptoms  in  patients  that  he  had  attended. 

*  For  the  greater  part  of  the  day,  Meady  answered  the  questions  of  her  own  chief 
attomey,  Arthur  Penney  and  then  went  without  rest  under  the  grueling  cross-examination 
of  Prosecutor  Branstrom.  Branstrom  was  unsuccessfijl  in  breaking  dowTi  her  story. 
Meady  spoke  in  a  voice  so  low  that  her  words  often  were  difficult  to  understand,  but  she 
answered  questions  of  her  own  lawyer  and  those  of  the  prosecutor  with  frankness. 

On  David  Hodell's  death  she  said,  "Last  January  my  father-in-law,  David  Hodell 
came  for  a  visit  with  us.   He  was  67  years  old,  feeble  and  sickly,  but  I  always  like  him. 
He  was  something  of  a  care  to  us,  but  I  never  minded  that.  "  "You  are  charged  with 
putting  poison  in  his  coffee.   Did  you  do  that?"  asked  Branstrom.    "/  did  not.  "  "We  did 
not  have  coffee  in  the  house  for  several  days  before  his  death,  and  I  had  no  poison  of  any 
kind  in  the  house.  I  never  bought  any  poison  for  any  purpose."  replied  Meady. 

Meady  testified  how  the  aged  Hodell,  on  the  last  day  of  his  life,  had  complained  of 
the  cold,  but  had  brought  water  and  wood  into  the  house  for  her.  She  described  his  fall 
near  the  door  on  his  last  trip  out  for  wood,  and  how  she  tried  to  help  him  into  the  house. 
Frightened,  she  ran  to  the  nearest  house  for  help.  Then  she  sent  for  a  doctor  and  tried  to 
get  word  to  her  husband,  who  had  gone  to  Woodville. 

For  a  second  time,  Prosecutor  Branstrom  was  unsuccessful  in  breaking  down 
Meady's  story  in  the  cross-examination. 

OCT  23,  1922 

*  Prosecuting  Attomey  Branstrom  indicated  that  the  body  of  Meady  Hodell's  father, 
Charles  H.  Dudgeon,  who  died  in  May  1920  may  be  exhumed.  Branstrom  claimed  he  had 
evidence  that  Mr.  Dudgeon  had  died  under  mysterious  circumstances. 


*  It  was  stated  in  court  that  it  was  Meady's  brother,  Lee  Dudgeon  who  started  the 
ghost  aversion  to  the  family  by  reporting  to  them  and  his  neighbors  that  he  had  seen  his 
father's  spirit  running  across  the  field  of  his  farm,  long  before  the  Hodell's  deaths  were  to 
have  revived  it. 

*  Dr.  W.T.  Dodge  of  Big  Rapids,  President  of  the  Michigan  Medical  Society,  and 
widely  know  as  a  surgeon  and  physician,  was  an  especially  valuable  witness  for  the 
defense.  He  declared  flatly,  that  the  symptoms  of  death,  as  detailed  by  Attorney  Penney 
fi-om  he  testimony,  did  not  indicate  strychnine  poisoning.   "The  man  would  have  died  in  a 
convulsion  had  it  been  strychnine  poisoning  as  related.  "  he  said.   "The  convulsions  would 
have  been  practically  continuous  and  it  would  have  been  impossible  for  him  to  have 
walked  around  and  do  the  work  described,  after  the  first  convulsion.  "  "What  would  the 
symptoms  described,  indicated  to  you?  "  asked  Penney.    "They  point  to  apoplexy, 
embolism,  blood  clot,  or  an  acute  dilation  of  the  heart.   In  fact,  it  might  be  almost 
anything  except  strychnine  poisoning.  " 

Referring  to  the  findings  and  conclusions  of  State  Chemist  Bliss,  in  his  examination 
of  the  stomach  and  other  organs  of  David  Hodell,  Dr.  Dodge  said,  "In  certain  forms  of 
ptomaine  or  proteid  poisoning,  the  suspected  substances  might  be  so  broken  up  in  the 
body  that  some  parts  placed  in  the  hands  of  a  chemist  would  be  impossible  to  distinguish 
from  strychnine."  He  also  said  that  the  amount  of  strychnine  indicated  in  the  body  and 
organs  of  Hodell,  as  reported  by  the  state  chemist,  would  not  be  sufficient  to  cause  death. 

•  *  Dr  Glenn  Graves  of  Big  Rapids  testified  that  he  agreed  with  Dr.  Dodge  in 

practically  all  points,  and  seemed,  sometimes  to  place  an  added  emphasis  upon  his 

*  Professor  Ernest  J.  Parr,  Head  Of  The  Department  Of  Chemistry,  Pharmacy, 
Toxicology  in  the  Ferris  Institute  at  Big  Rapids,  also  took  issue  with  the  testimony  and 
findings  of  Chemist  Bliss,  as  previously  given  for  the  prosecution. 

His  description  of  the  tests  necessary  to  positively  prove  the  presence  of  str)'chnine 
poison  in  stomach  and  other  organs  went  much  fiirther  than  those  reported  by  Bliss.  He 
also  thought  that  in  the  case  of  an  autopsy,  after  six  months'  burial  when  the  process  of 
embalming  had  followed  death,  the  second  day,  the  natural  poison  in  the  tissues  of  the 
body  produced  by  probable  decomposition  would  handicap  the  results  of  the  chemist's  test 
for  poison. 

*  The  attorneys  made  their  closing  statements. 

OCT  26,  1922 

*  After  a  two  hour  deliberation,  the  jury  found  Meady  guilty  in  the  first  degree  of  the 
murder  of  her  father-in-law,  David  Hodell.  Meady  sat  emotionless  as  the  \'erdict  was  read 
by  the  jury  foreman,  Jesse  Garlough,  of  Dar>lon,  Michigan..  She  was  wearing  a  dark  dress 
with  a  red  coral  necklace.  On  her  third  finger  was  her  wedding  ring.  Meady  was 
sentenced  to  life  in  the  Detroit  House  of  Corrections. 



NOV  2.  1922 

*  Romie's  body  was  exhumed  by  order  of  the  court  and  under  the  supervision  of  Dr. 
Bamum.   State  Chemist  Charles  Bliss  found  strychnine  sulfate  in  the  viscera. 

NOV  13,  1922 

**         Meady's  mother,  Alice  Dudgeon  went  on  trial  in  White  Cloud  before  Judge 
Barton.  A  change  of  venue  was  requested  by  the  defense,  but  denied  by  Judge  Barton. 
Sentiment  towards  the  Dudgeons  had  become  extremely  hostile  and  the  attorneys  were 
having  a  difficult  time  choosing  a  jury. 

**         Alice  Dudgeon  did  not  seem  to  be  as  composed  and  uninterested  in  the 
proceedings  as  her  daughter,  Meady.  She  appeared  nervous  with  her  chin  quivering  and 
occasionally  held  her  handkerchief  to  her  eyes.  Much  of  the  testimony  became  repetition 
of  her  daughter,  Meady's  trial. 

DEC  7,  1922 

**         Alice  Dudgeon  was  found  guilty  in  the  first  degree  for  the  murder  cTher  son-in- 
law,  Romie  "Doc"  Hodell.   It  was  claimed  that  Meady  Hodell  had  put  strychnine  poison  in 
her  husband  Romie's  coffee  and  since  he  did  not  die  immediately,  she  clubbed  him  with  a 
rolling  pin.  The  blow  did  not  kill  Romie,  so  Alice  finished  the  job  with  the  same  rolling 
pin.  She  instructed  her  sons,  Lee  and  Herman  to  hang  the  body  in  the  Terwillegar  bam 
while  she  and  Meady  wTOte  "suicide"  notes.  The  jury  deliberated  for  an  hour  and  forty- 
five  minutes  before  reaching  their  verdict.  She  was  sentenced  to  life  in  the  Detroit  House 
of  Corrections  as  her  daughter  was  six  weeks  before.  Alice  Dudgeon  spent  one  year  in 
prison  before  returning  to  Newaygo  County  jail  to  await  retrial  ordered  by  the  Michigan 
Supreme  Court. 

DEC  12,  1922 

*  Meady  Hodell  arrived  at  the  Detroit  House  of  Correction.  She  became  a 
housekeeper  for  the  Superintendent  of  The  Detroit  House  of  Corrections,  A.  Blake  Gillis. 
Meady  was  a  model  prisoner,  who  constantly  professed  her  innocence.  Although  she  had 
no  previous  religious  background,  Meady  attended  religious  study  sessions. 

FEB  22,  1923 

***       The  trial  of  Lee  and  Herman  Dudgeon  and  Robert  Bennett  began  after  a  change  of 

venue  from  White  Cloud  to  Big  Rapids,  Mecosta  County,  Michigan,  before  Judge  Barton. 

The  trial  proceeded  very  slowly  due  to  the  difficulty  in  selecting  a  jury  and  a  severe 
blizzard  prevented  some  jurors  from  arriving  at  the  coutt  house. 

The  trial  was  a  repetition  of  the  Meady  Hodell  and  Alice  Dudgeon  trials. 

MAR  5,  1923 

***       Circuit  Judge  Joseph  Barton  declared  a  mistrial  in  the  Dudgeon/Bennett  murder 

trial  due  to  the  sickness  of  a  juror.  J.  William  Turk,  a  grocer  from  Big  Rapids,  contracted 




MAR  6.  1923 

*  Meady  Hodell  writes  a  thirteen  page  letter  containing  the  story  of  her  life  and  a 

fifty-nine  page  letter  containing  the  story  of  how  David  Hodell  died  to  her  defense 
attorney  Fred  R.  Everett. 

MAY  10,  1923 

***       The  \enue  for  the  trial  was  changed  one  again  fi-om  Big  Rapids  to  Hart,  Oceana 

County,  Michigan. 

MAY  12,  1923 

***       The  Defense  Attorneys,  Worcester  and  Penney  withdrew  fi-om  the 

Dudgeon/Bennett  trail  and  returned  the  deed  to  the  Dudgeon  property. 

JUL  9,  1923 

***       The  trial  of  Lee  and  Herman  Dudgeon  and  Robert  Bennett  resumed  before  Circuit 
Judge  Joseph  Barton  with  Fred  R.  Everett  and  F.E.  Wetmore  of  Big  Rapids  as  the  new 
defense  attorneys  in  Hart,  Michigan. 

JUL  26,  1923 

***       Lee  Dudgeon  was  found  guilty  for  complicity  in  the  murder  of  his  brother-in-law, 
Romie  "Doc"  Hodell.  Herman  Dudgeon  and  Robert  Bennett  were  found  not  guilty.  For 
the  crime  of  manslaughter,  Lee  Dudgeon  received  three  consecutive  terms  of  2   1/2  -  15-5 
years  in  Ionia  State  Prison. 

AUG  6,  1923 

***       Lee  Dudgeon  arrived  at  Ionia  State  Prison,  Ionia,  Michigan. 

JAN  10,  1924 

****     Circuit  Court  Judge  Joseph  Barton  appoints  Special  Prosecutor  William  J. 

Branstrom  to  represent  the  People  VS  Alice  and  Lee  Dudgeon  in  the  Michigan  Supreme 


MAY       1924 

****     Lee  and  Alice  Dudgeon's  cases  were  appealed  in  the  Michigan  Supreme  Court. 
Meady's  case  was  never  appealed  to  the  Supreme  Court  because  her  attorneys  failed  to  file 
exceptions  to  the  charge  of  Judge  Barton  within  a  specified  time. 

DEC  24,  1924 

****  Lee  Dudgeon  was  released  from  Ionia  State  Prison  for  a  new  trial.  Lee  Dudgeon's 
sentence  was  reduced  to  three  years.  Upon  his  release,  he  settled  in  Muskegon,  Michigan, 
where  he  married  and  had  a  son  named  Lee. 

MAY       1925 

****     By  order  of  the  Michigan  Supreme  Court,  Alice  Dudgeon  and  her  son,  Lee  were 

retried  in  White  Cloud  before  Harry  I.  Dingeman  of  Detroit,  Michigan. 

■      ^        19 


William  J.  Branstrom 

Fred  R.  Everett  and  F.E.  Wetmore 


It  came  out  in  this  trial  that  besides  borrowing  sheets  from  Mrs.  Beatrice  Hurst, 
the  three  policemen  rented  automobiles  from  Mr.  Wakeman  and  Mrs.  Sarah  Montague  on 
the  nights  of  August  10th  and  1 1th.  1922.  They  used  them  to  drive  the  defendants  to 
different  locations  late  at  night. 

MAY  28,  1925 

E.S.  Hitchcock.  Commissioner  on  the  board  of  the  Detroit  House  of  Correction, 
sent  a  letter  to  Judge  Harr\'  I.  Dingeman  stating  that  Meady  Hodell  is  a  model  prisoner 
and  his  belief  in  her  innocence. 

JUN  4,  1925 

The  Dudgeon  house,  which  had  stood  unoccupied  for  three  years,  had  it's  windows 
and  doors  removed,  the  exterior  walls  of  tar  paper  had  been  shredded  by  the  weather, 
some  of  the  floor  boards  had  been  removed  by  skunk  hunters,  and  the  newspaper  covered 
walls  had  yellowed,  burned  to  the  ground. 

JUN  II,  1925 

****     Judge  Harry  I.  Dingeman  gave  a  direct  \'erdict  freeing  Lee  Dudgeon.   It  was 
determined  by  the  judge  that  it  was  not  a  crime  under  Michigan  law  to  dispose  of  a  body. 
The  jury  could  not  agree  on  a  verdict  for  Alice  Dudgeon  and  recessed  with  a  \ote 
of  nine  to  three  for  acquittal.  She  was  held  in  the  White  Cloud  jail  until  she  was  released 
to  the  care  of  her  son,  Lee  in  Big  Rapids,  who  had  fallen  of  a  train  boxcar  and  was  in 
serious  condition.  She  was  never  brought  back  to  trial. 

JUN         1925 

Harry  L.  Spooner,  reporter  and  county  historian,  who  had  reported  for  the  local 
newspaper  on  the  Hodell/Dudgeon  murder  trials  became  a  crusader  on  the  behalf  of 
Meady  Hodell.   Even  though  he  was  a  close  friend  of  David  Hodell  he  was  convinced  that 
Meady  was  innocent  and  spent  the  next  24  years  sending  letters  to  the  leading  officials  of 
the  time  trying  to  get  Meady  paroled. 

NOV   1,  1925 

Sergeant  John  Palmer  resigned  from  the  Michigan  State  Police. 

Lee  and  Herman  Dudgeon  brought  a  damage  suit  in  Newaygo  County  Circuit 
Court  against  the  nineteen  members  of  the  vigilantes.  Judge  John  Vanderwerp  of 
Muskegon,  Michigan  returned  a  verdict  of  no  cause  of  action.  A  motion  for  a  retrial  was 
made,  but  denied  by  Judge  Vanderwerp.  The  Dudgeons  contemplated  approaching  the 
Michigan  Supreme  Court,  but  by  this  time  it  was  financially  impossible. 

FEB  15,  1927 

Trooper  Ernest  Ramsey  resigned  from  the  Michigan  State  Police. 

NOV  9,  1927 

^         20 


Alice  Dudgeon  sent  a  letter  to  the  Commissioner  of  the  Detroit  House  of 

619  Rose  Ave 
Big  Rapids,  Mich. 

Dear  Mrs  Campbell 

Commisiioner  of  Detroit  House  of  Corrections  Board  in  regard  of  my 
poor  little  Daughter  Meady  Hodell  Dear  ones  of  the  Board  I  hope  to  see 
my  Daughter  home  on  a  Parole  to  stay  with  her  old  mother  that  cant 
hardley  get  around  more  the  Poor  Child  is  thairfor  something  that  she  is 
not  guilty  of  god  bless  you  Dear  Mrs  Campbell  I  do  think  it  is  wicked  to 
keep  her  thair  oh  How  glad  I  am  the  Poor  Child  is  clear  of  eve  thing  that 
was  put  on  the  Poor  girl  Pleas  do  let  her  Come  home  oh  god  the  Board 

will  Be  reward  in  the  other  world  with hes  to  my  heart  each  for  his 

to  think  she  has  to  suffer  for  something  that  she  is  not  guilty  of  oh  How 
grand  it  is  that  We  Can  Say  that  an  say  truth  god  know  that  she  is  an 
innocent  Child  Pleas  Parol  her  to  me  god  Will  be  with  you  Dear  ones  of 
the  Board 

Alice  Dudgeon 

Poor  meady  Hodell  Mother 

god  Bless  your 

DEC  23,  1927 

An  article  appeared  in  the  Big  Rapids  Pioneer  xsritten  by  Dr.  William  T.  Dodge  of 
Big  Rapids,  the  former  President  of  the  Michigan  Medical  Society,  who  had  testified  at 
Meady's  trial  declaring  that  he  was  convinced  that  she  was  innocent. 

"From  the  standpoint  of  simple  medicine  Dr.  Dodge  declared,  it  would  have  been 
impossible  for  Meady  to  have  poisoned  the  aged  man  and  his  opinion  is  based  upon  the 
state's  own  testimony.  Dr.  Dodge  believes  that  Charles  L.  Bliss,  State  Chemist  who 
examined  Hodell's  vital  organs  and  found  a  substance  which  he  said  was  strychnine,  could 
easily  have  mistaken  some  other  substance  for  the  deadly  drug." 

Even  if  he  actually  did  find  strychnine,  the  30-100  of  a  grain  which  he  testified  he 
found  was  hardly  sufficient  to  have  killed  a  small  animal,  let  alone  a  man  even  in  the 
weakened  condition  that  the  aged  Hodell  was  said  to  have  been  in  at  the  time  of  his 
sudden  death.  Also,  pointed  out,  the  autopsy  performed  upon  the  body  was  limited  to  a 
search  for  poison  only  and  no  effort  was  made  by  the  prosecution  to  find  out  if  death  was 
the  result  of  natural  causes. 

DEC  21,  1928 

Harry  L.  Spooner  received  a  letter  fi-om  Governor  Fred  W.  Green  who  replied  that 
he  had  received  Spooner's  letter  and  was  looking  into  the  case. 

JAN  4,  1929 


Spooner  recei\'ed  a  second  letter  from  the  Governor  stating  that  the  Commissioner 
of  Pardons  and  Paroles  was  making  a  trip  to  Big  Rapids  to  in\estigate  the  case  of  Meady 

AUG  12,  1929 

Spooner  received  a  third  letter  from  the  Governor  stating  Spooner's  letter  inquiring 
on  the  findings  of  the  Commissioner  of  Pardons  and  Paroles  was  forwarded  to 
Commissioner  Arthur  D.  Wood  of  the  Pardons  and  Paroles  of  the  Detroit  House  of 

AUG  21,  1929 

Spooner  received  a  letter  from  Commissioner  Wood  stating  that  he  was  still 
investigating  the  Meady  Hodell  case  and  was  trying  to  arrange  a  meeting  with  Judge 
Joseph  Barton. 

AUG  24,  1929 

Spoorer  received  a  second  letter  from  Commissioner  Wood  stating  that  he  would 
meet  with  Spooner  the  next  time  he  was  in  Detroit. 

Governor  Green  and  Commissioner  Wood  were  not  convinced  of  Meady's 
innocence  and  parole  was  denied.  Spooner  spent  the  20's,  30,s  and  40's  keeping  up 
correspondence  with  the  Hodell/Dudgeon  defense  lawyer,  Fred  R.  Everett  and 
numerous  other  people  who  could,  if  not  help  get  Meady  paroled,  help  him  get 
information  on  the  story  of  the  case  he  was  attempting  to  write. 

APR  27,  1934 

*  Meady  Hodell  was  denied  parole. 

JAN  1935 

**         Alice  Dudgeon  died  at  her  son,  Lee's  house  in  Muskegon,  Michigan 

JAN   10,  1935 

*  Meady  Hodell,  on  guarded  release,  attended  the  funeral  of  her  mother,  Alice 
Dudgeon,  in  Muskegon,  Michigan.  Meady  paid  for  her  mother's  funeral  with  the  money 
she  had  saved  from  her  S.  10  a  day  prison  salary. 

APR  30,  1936 

Sergeant  George  Karkeet  resigned  from  the  Michigan  State  Police  due  to  ill  health. 

OCT  29,  1936 

*  Meady  Hodell  was  denied  parole. 

DEC  10,  1937 

*  Meady  Hodell  was  denied  parole. 

MAR  30,  1938 

-      27. 

*  Meady  Hodell  was  denied  parole. 

FEB  12,  1948 

*  Meady  Hodell  was  denied  parole. 

FEB    2,  1948 

*  Meady  Hodell  was  denied  parole. 

JUN  16,  1949 

*  Meady  Hodell's  parole  is  considered. 

JUL  26,  1949 

*  Meady  Hodell's  sentence  was  commuted  by  Governor  G.  Mennen  Williams. 

AUG  8,  1949 

*  Meady  Hodell  was  released  from  the  Detroit  House  of  Correction  after  serving  26 
years,  7  months,  and  23  days.  The  Superintendent  of  the  prison,  A.  Blake  Gillies,  gave 
Meady  the  $400.  in  cash  and  S850.  in  bonds  she  had  saved  from  her  S.  1 0.  a  day  prison 
salary.  She  became  a  housekeeper  for  four  priests  at  the  St.  Matthew's  Roman  Catholic 
rectory  in  Grosse  Point,  Michigan.  Meady  died  just  a  couple  of  years  after  being  released 
from  prison.  She  was  buried  in  Muskegon,  Michigan. 





Solal  hitint.l<«a» 


Stwrntilp  t4   STtni,  Saifff  IT   ZDttt  »t  U*  Siltilfn   ^trH^Un 



C/^x  Auc/xi 
-*       7  J/J 


\  WILCOX  ssiNSfe-- 


_  TOWNS  HI  P_  ^.• 

S'arl  ol  Uownthipt    1i  and  14   Dlorlh,  Siaagt   7?    1Dt*t  ol  tht  Shtebigan  Siltridian 











Dudgeon  Family  (Meady  (Dudgeon)  Hodell's  Family): 

Meady  (Dudgeon)  Hodell  age  20 

Charles  H.  Dudgeon  (father)  died  May  20,  1 920  at  age  68 

Alice  Dudgeon  (mother)  died  Jan  1935  at  age  67 

Lee  Dudgeon  (brother)  age  25 

Wilmer  Dudgeon  (brother)  age  22 

Herman  Dudgeon  (brother)  age  1 8 

Lola  Dudgeon  (sister) 

Hodell  Family  (Romie  "Doc"  Hodell's  Family): 

Romie  "Doc"  Hodell  died  May  6,  1922  at  age  of  26 

David  Hodell  (father)  died  Feb  4,  1922 

Nina  Hodell  (mother) 

Gayle  Hodell  (brother) 

Forrest  Hodell  (brother) 

Wa>Tie  Hodell  (brother) 

Hollis  Hodell  (brother) 

Mrs.  Lila  Siegel  (sister) 

Mrs.  Lola  Cook  (sister) 

Hodell's  Hired  Hands: 

Robert  Bennett  age  24 

Elzie  Priest 

Sheriff  of  White  Cloud,  Michigan: 
Nobel  A.  McKinley 

Deputy  Sheriff  of  White  Cloud,  Michigan: 
Winfield  E.  Patterson 

Justice  of  the  Peace  /  Undertaker  of  White  Cloud,  Michigan: 
Walter  B.  Reed 

Undertaker  of  White  Cloud,  Michigan: 
Ale.x  J.  McKinley 

Post  Mortem  examination  of  the  body  of  Romie  "Doc"  Hodell: 
Dr.  Weaver,  Dr.  P.T.  Waters,  and  Dr.  Turner 

"L>Tich"  Mob: 


Fred  Anderson,  Paul  Andrews,  Charles  Burkett.  Roy  Cook,  Willie  Cook,  Preston 
Denton,  Forrest  Hodell,  Gayle  Hodell,  Frank  LeBottte,  Orson  Miller,  Fred  Nestle, 
Clarence  Rittenhouse,  Nate  Ryter,  Arthur  Snyder,  Jim  Stoner,  Leo  Stutt,  Carl  Watkins, 
William  Watkins,  and  J.F.  (Deek)  Wood 

Michigan  State  Police  (Detroit,  Michigan): 

Sergeant  George  E.  Karkeet,  Sergeant  John  Palmer,  and  Trooper  Ernest  G. 

Circuit  Court  Judge  of  White  Cloud,  Michigan: 
Joseph  Barton 

Circuit  Court  Judge  of  Detroit,  Michigan: 
Harry  I.  Dingeman 

Prosecuting  Attorneys  of  White  Cloud,  Michigan: 

WiUiam  J.  Branstrom  of  Fremont,  Michigan,  Arthur  J.  Butler,  and  Harold  J. 

Defense  Attorneys: 

Alpheus  A.  Worcester  of  Big  Rapids,  Michigan,  Arthur  W.  Penney  of  Cadillac, 

Defense  Attorneys  after  the  change  of  venue  to  Oceana  County,  Hart,  Michigan: 

Fred  R.  Everett  of  Big  Rapids,  Michigan  and  F.E.  Wetmore  of  Big  Rapids, 

Newaygo  County  Court  House  Deputy: 
A.H.  Courtney 

State  Chemist,  Lansing,  Michigan: 
Charles  Bliss 

Stenographer  for  Prosecuting  Attorney  William  J.  Branstrom: 
Fern  Miller 

Sexton  of  the  Ashland  Center  Cemetery  in  Grant,  Michigan: 
Charles  Egolf 

Witnesses  for  the  Prosecution: 

Mrs.  Cornelia  Andrson  of  White  Cloud,  Michigan 
Mrs.  Neva  Crawford  of  Grant,  Michigan 
Dr.  William  H.  Bamum  of  Fremont,  Michigan 
Dr.  Charles  B.  Long  of  Fremont,  Michigan 
Dr.  P.T.  Waters  of  WOiite  Cloud,  Michigan 


Forrest  HodelJ  of  White  Cloud,  Michigan 
Mrs.  Lola  Cook  of  White  Cloud,  Michigan 
Undertaker  Alex  J.  McKinley  of  White  Cloud,  Michigan 

Witness  for  the  Defense: 

Dr.  William  T.  Dodge  of  Big  Rapids,  Michigan 

Dr.  Glenn  Graves  of  Big  Rapids,  Michigan 

Professor  Ernest  J.  Parr,  Ferris  Institute  in  Big  Rapids,  Michigan 



Information  Sources 

Department  of  Corrections 
Grandview  Plaza  Building 
P.O.  Box  30003 
Lansing,  Michigan  48909 
Attn:  Linda  Wittmarm 

Request  for  prison  records  for  Meady  Hodell  and  Lee  Dudgeon  was  fonvarded  to  : 

Department  of  State,  Bureau  of  History,  Archives  Section  Library  and  Historical  Section 

717  W.  Allegan  Street 

Lansing,  Michigan  489 1 8-2 1 00 


Attn:  Leroy  Bamett 

(Prison  records  of  Meady  Hodell  and  Lee  Dudgeon.  Nothing  found  on  Alice  Dudgeon) 

Fremont  Public  Library 

104  E.  Main  Street 

Fremont,  Michigan  49412 


Attn:  Judy  McNally 

(Historian  H.L.  Spooner's  account  of  the  Hodell/Dudgeon  murder  trial) 

HodelJ,  Forrest  (son  of  Forrest  Hodell) 

6990  Baseline  Road 

White  Cloud,  Michigan  49349 


(Hodell)  Addis,  Marie  (granddaughter  of  Forrest  Hodell) 
380  S.  Cherry  Avenue 
White  Cloud,  Michigan  49349 

Maxson,  Don  and  Marie 

5445  3  Mile  Road 

White  Cloud,  Michigan  49349 

Mecosta  County  Court  House 

400  Elm  Street 

Big  Rapids,  Michigan 


(Court  transcripts  of  Lee  and  Herman  Dudgeon  and  Robert  Bennett's  muder  trials) 

Michigan  Supreme  Court 
3 1 5  W.  Allegan  Street 

Lansing.  Michigan  48933 


(Court  transcripts  of  Lee  Dudgeon's  appeal  to  the  Supreme  Court) 

Newaygo  County  Society  of  History  and  Genealocv 

P.O.  Box  68 

White  Cloud,  Michigan  49349 


Attn:  Virginia  Steele 

(Newspaper  accounts  of  Hodell/Dudgeon  murder  trial) 

Newaygo  County  Court  House 

P.O.  Box  885 

White  Cloud,  Michigan  49349 

Attn:  Kim  Werner 

(Court  transcripts  of  Hodell/Dudgeon  murder  trial) 

Oceana  County  Society  of  History  and  Genealogy 

114  Dryden  Street 

Hart,  Michigan  49420 


Attn:   Ruth  Ann  Kelley 

Oceana  County  Court  House 

Hart,  Michigan  49420 

(Missing  court  transcripts  of  Lee  Dudgeon  murder  trial.   Possible  these  documents  were 

sent  to  the  Michigan  Supreme  Court  on  his  appeal) 

Oceana  County  Treasure 

County  Building 

Hart,  Michigan  49420 

(Newspaper  accounts  of  Hodell/Dudgeon  murder  trial) 

Richards,  Ted  (Grandson  of  Fred  Nestle,  one  of  the  vigilantes) 
2851  N.  Poplar  Avenue 
White  Cloud,  Michigan  49349 


BINDERY  INC.       | 

NOV  98 

1        J  X   PI   .^  N.  MANCHESTER, 
iBound-To-Plsasi^  INDIANA  46962